Monthly Archives: February 2014

Aside

It’s been about 48 hours since I started watching “House of Cards” and I made it through all 13 episodes of the first season. I think I’ve lost my mind. Yes, season two beckons. I’m still in my pajamas, so … Continue reading

An Enthusiasm for Similes

I’ve been reading a lot lately and when I find a sentence or paragraph I like I’ll go over it a few times, savoring it the way some people enjoy wine. I have a special appreciation for the artfully crafted simile. They’re difficult to write. It’s pretty easy, in fact, to come off sounding hackneyed. I’ve read some laughably embarrassing ones; they’re usually an indication of a lazy (or inexperienced) writer. I use them sparingly.

One of the most memorable similes is from Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides: “The spanish moss hung from the trees like the secret laundry of angels.” That may be a slight paraphrase but isn’t it beautiful? A pretty girl may or may not be like a melody. And love is not at all like oxygen. See what I mean?

In my apartment building there’s a spot where people leave things, a sort of “free box,” and it’s where I get most of my books. I used to get them from my mom (and still do, occasionally) but she reads so voraciously that she mostly checks them out of the local library. Anyway, one of my recent acquisitions was Speaking with the Angel, an anthology of short stories edited by Nick Hornby. He assembled an impressive collection of writers, including Helen Fielding (of Bridget Jones’s Diary fame) and Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which totally was, and editor of McSweeney’s). I found myself dog-earring pages a few times:

“I mean, I recognize what’s going on in my head, what’s been going on for a while, actually, on and off. It’s middle age. I know that. It’s getting older, slower, tired, bored, fat, useless. It’s death becoming something real. It’s the old neighbours from my childhood dying. And even people my own age. Cancer, mostly. Car crashes.” That’s from “The Slave,” by Roddy Doyle. Brilliant.

“What about mystery? What about allure? What’s the point of marching the poor boy round Sainsbury’s in a filthy mood when you could be sliding your toe up his thigh in the Caprice while he slips his Gold Card to the garçon? You’re a woman, darling, not some sort of Chinese coworker in a communist cooperative. You’re not supposed to be his equal, you’re supposed to be his empress.” That’s “Luckybitch” by Ms. Fielding, an impressively tender take on old age.

“We go down a corridor full of old newspapers, beer cases and musical instruments and speakers all in their black suitcases. The carpet is like fungus on cheese.” How’s THAT for a simile? It is the work of Patrick Marber in his coming of age, uh, romp, “Peter Shelley.”

The collection was originally published to raise money for and awareness of TreeHouse, a school in the UK for autistic children. I highly recommend it. (The book, not the school. Unless you’re autistic and of elementary school age.) Other books I’ve read over the past few weeks and enjoyed: Water for Elephants (ooooh, I would SO love to run away with the circus!) by Sara Gruen, Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende (everything she writes is mesmerizing) and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (a boggling multi-decade tapestry of relationships).

Reading wonderful writing simultaneously inspires me to write and puts me off writing. I just downloaded Netflix and started watching House of Cards so maybe I’ll find myself more motivated to write since I won’t be freshly remembering someone else’s genius. Someone told me about this web site where you can see which famous writer “I Write Like” and, after pasting in four different excerpts (erotica, a rant or two and something more general-ish) I was informed that I Write Like: Cory Doctorow. Well, one rant came up with William Gibson. I’m not overly familiar with either of them and would’ve preferred, oh, I don’t know, Hemingway or Hunter S. Thompson or Bukowski. I guess I have some new reading to do! Ummm, after I’ve binged on every Netflix series I can handle!

My Ramen Art

One night in Gerlach, drinking at Joe’s, I was ranting (what’s new?) about shit that pisses me off and one of the (many) things I listed? People who post photos of their food. My feeling is, unless you’re an actual chef, nobody cares what your plate of pasta looks like! Is it a work of art? No! It’s just mashed fucking potatoes! Seriously. So I came up with an “art project”: make ramen and post photos. A lot. For, like a MONTH! I thought that was so hilarious that I had to write myself a note. On my hand. In Sharpie. My friend The Hun found it equally entertaining and agreed to remind me, scrawling the same note on HER hand. In Sharpie. Good thing, too, because I’m sure neither of us would’ve remembered otherwise.

Fast forward a few months. I’m still irked every time I see someone’s unidentifiable slop Instagrammed onto Facebook. But I waited patiently to start my gustatory pieta. Mid-January, it began. I didn’t tell anyone about my little plan. I just started posting. The reactions were amusing. And heart-warming, as so many were concerned about my well-being. And my sodium intake!
[Please forgive this lame format; WordPress was not cooperating.]

Behold the beauty of
THIRTY DAYS OF RAMEN.

Day 1: Look what I cooked! Chicken ramen!
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Day 2: Look what I cooked! Chicken ramen with corn niblets!
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Day 3: Look what I cooked!
Chicken ramen with corn niblets and melted cheese!

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I was with you until the melted cheese ….
throw some beer in there. beer cheese ramen with maize.
Oh my god I MUST get this recipe
Throw in a few eggs and it will set like a pie!
Day 4: Look what I cooked! Chili flavored ramen!
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You are fucking hilarious with that. Ramen: getting me through since ’72!
I smell cookbook!
Day 5: Look what I cooked! Chili flavored ramen with egg!
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Day 6: Look what I cooked!
Chili flavored ramen with egg and melted cheese!
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Looks cheesy
Wait… I… such genius.
Day 7: Look what I cooked! Chicken ramen with egg!
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That sure is a lot of ramen these days.
You’ll know you’ve come full circle when you get to, “Ramen with Ramen!” .
[Me] It is ART!
Yes! Yes! YES! . . . Of COURSE it is!
How could I be so remiss so as to miss it! It’s all so clear now! As through a glass, darkly, Alice . . . when she’s ten feet tall . . .
The squeaky clean shine of eternity . . . shimmering like the silver underbelly of an orgasmic eel . . . reflecting from the inverted spoon’s humpback infinity . . .
The light of lights within the us of all our individual alls, all balled up real nice and tight, huh, laddy . . . Yeah . . . thought that was the case . . .
Hope, Father Ramen, rising off of the back of deprivation . . . opportunity, hot and viscous, pouring down into Mother Noodle like flying poodles soaring through the back pages of our mines . . . again . . . Silver . . . and Gold . . . and Onyx . . . Oh, my! . . .
Your oeuvre . . . the unnatural child of your natural ovary’s output . . . Eggbeaters falling on my head . . .
The virgin white, enclosed in the iron bars of sometimes a grate notion . . .
I am the egg man! (Wooooooooo!) . . .
They are the egg man! (Wooooooooo!) . . .
You are the Ramen! (Koo-Koo Ka-Chew!) . . .
P.S. . . . You might want to try Chicken Ramen and Methocarbamol . . . jist sayin’ .
Ramen with hotdogs? Ramen with spinach? Ramen with……..
I put egg in my Ramen a lot
whoa it’s like a whole mother-child thing there. Jungian. Deep.
I had ramen with egg last night after seeing this. So Abby try ramen with dried sea weed strips in it like Japanese college students eat. I do ramen w spaghetti sauce, ramen soup w egg and tuna, or dried ramen w canned mixed veggies sprinkled w the soup powder, it goes on and on
Shoplift some saffron for a super fancy ramen!
i like it with egg, peanut butter and sirachi.
Day 8: Look what I cooked!
Chicken ramen with egg and corn niblets!
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I’m sending u a vat of broccoli !
Day 9: Look what I cooked!
Chicken ramen with egg, corn niblets and cheese!
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That’s it I’ve had it we’re going to get you some food.
Day 10: Look what I cooked! Chicken ramen with frozen spinach!
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Yeah! Green stuff!
Okay, I’m starting to get into this blog.
You need to get some fiber
Day 11: Look what I cooked!
Chicken ramen with coconut milk and bean sprouts!
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Coconut milk.. that IS ART!!
ooooh…girl. You are a gourMET!
Getting fancy with your cooking now!
Maybe mix it up with a little curry paste… looking forward to more inspirations!
Day 12: Look what I cooked!
Chicken ramen with frozen spinach and egg!
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Can I bring you groceries ?
Lol
You are so creative! I bet some tomatoes would be nice too. Next time! 
Day 13: Look what I cooked!
Chicken ramen with frozen spinach, egg and cheese!
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Day 14: Look what I cooked!
Look what I cooked! Chicken flavored ramen!

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[#1 Ramen fan]
Did you consider adding little chocolate eggs that look like footballs left over from Christmas in honor of St. Vincent Lombardi day? It would have been very appropriate, I think . . .  . . .
 The city that I live in, and I work at gate 5 doing metal detecting at the team that just lost the Stuper bowl. And yet, were it not for the party at the bar and AMAZING burner potluck, I would have gone hungry. Yay for sports with food!
Day 15: Look what I cooked! Oriental flavored ramen!
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[Me] Ramen: the only place you’ll still find the word “oriental.” And it’s pretty nasty. (The flavor, not the word.)
ame the meal u want cooked and I shall make it soooooo include desired dessert, all made from scratch
[Me] Haha, thank you! These posts are all in fun.
I bet it doesn’t taste like Orientals. Just like Italian seasoning doesn’t taste like Italians!
[Me] It tasted like…nothing. Needed hot sauce.
Favorite food blog.
have you discovered my peanut version….???? damn good!
Day 16: Look what I cooked!
Oriental flavored ramen with bean sprouts!
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I think I’m detecting a theme here
be careful of your sodium intake 
Bean sprouts is cheating
February brings grits?
Day 17: Look what I cooked!
Chicken flavored ramen with frozen broccoli!
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Day 18: Look what I cooked!
Chicken flavored ramen with frozen broccoli and egg!
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Day 19: Look what I cooked!
Chicken flavored ramen with frozen broccoli,
egg and cheddar cheese!
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Day 20: Look what I cooked! Beef flavored ramen!
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Day 21: Look what I cooked! Beef flavored ramen with egg!
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Day 22: Look what I cooked!
Beef flavored ramen with egg and frozen spinach!
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Great recipe! I think I’ll make this for lunch!

Day 23: Look what I cooked!
Beef flavored ramen with egg, frozen spinach and mozzarella!
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Now we are talking! Bet you ate this one…lol!
You’re learning! Just put eggs, cheese and spinach in everything!
Where’s the one with broccoli and green beans?
hehe
Inspiring….. http://www.budget101.com/frugal/ramen-noodle-recipes-1548/

Day 24: Look what I cooked!
Chicken flavored ramen with fresh broccolini!
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Day 25: Look what I cooked!
Chicken flavored ramen with fresh broccolini and egg!
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WHOA GETTING TRICKY THERE ABBY
[Me] That is some FRESH vegetable matter in that pot, folks!
What’s with the recent ramen obsession?
Ramen is a metaphor.
RAMEN IS LIFE

Day 26: Look what I cooked!
Chicken flavored ramen with fresh broccolini,
egg and melted mozzarella!

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Day 27: Look what I cooked!
Chili flavored ramen with frozen broccoli!

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Day 28: Look what I cooked!
Chili flavored ramen with frozen broccoli and egg!
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Day 29: Look what I cooked!
Chili flavored ramen with coconut milk and egg!

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Day 30: Look what I cooked!
Chili flavored ramen with frozen broccoli, egg and mozzarella!
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Because I know how much you like to make your own ramen, Abby:
How to Make Ramen Like the Kind Served at Fancy Noodle Bars
This is not a column about cooking instant ramen. (But remind me to revisit the topic for my April 1 column.)

No, I did not eat ramen every day for a month. I would plunk the block of noodles into the water, take a photo, add an ingredient, take a photo, add another ingredient, take a photo, add some cheese, take a photo and then eat it.

I appreciated peoples’ concern about my diet, about my financial situation, and, yes, my sodium intake. I did often have a salad or salad-like substance alongside my noodles. And in between bowls of ramen I managed to ingest numerous other cuisines and nutrients.

But yeah, it was definitely a lot of ramen and it will probably be a while till I enjoy it again. But it is my favorite thing to cook. Well, more accurately it is the only thing I cook. And I love it! I hope you’ve enjoyed it at least half as much as I did!

It’s Not You, It’s Me. Yeah. Me.

Okay, rather than continue to prove (and re-prove) how many of the profiles on OKCupid are fakes, I’m gonna get real. I’m gonna come clean about the sad reality of disappointing dates and awkward interactions. Because it isn’t only OKC’s fault. It’s mine.

Here’s one example of back-and-forthing gone awry:
Him: Aren’t you the bartender ?
Me: Ex bartender.
Him: Yes, I remember you invited interested parties to visit you at your gig. What are you doing now?
Me: Making hats and other costumery. Not much different, just no bar shifts at the moment. And you’re welcome to come watch me craft!
Him: Where do you craft?
Me: In my living room.
Him: Is it that entertaining to watch ?!
Me: No. It was a joke. Sadly, humor doesn’t translate very well online. You asked what I was doing now and I went with “doing” as inviting people to visit me while I’m working.
Him: Which part of the city do u live ?
Me: East Village. Near the bar I’d invited people to.
Him: As interesting a woman as you seem to be , I don’t drink and given the brewskis in your photos it looks like you like to party!
Me: Oh well. Heaven forbid you might get to know me and find out. Your decision.

Aaaaaaand, end of discussion. So why the hell was this guy emailing me to begin with? Those photos with “brewskis” didn’t miraculously appear. They were there from the get-go. I don’t post pictures of myself sitting on my couch NOT drinking. Or in the gym NOT drinking. Mind you, I’m a part-time alcoholic. But still. How horrible would it be to meet “an interesting woman,” if only as friends? Or to meet someone new? Does it NEED to be only for a long-term relationship? Asshole. SOBER asshole.

Here’s another communication fail. My “conversation” was prompted by info in the man’s profile:
Me: I’m up for meeting in person as soon as is reasonable, no endless email exchanges or (horrors!) phone calls or texts. That said, if you’re interested, I’ve now made the first move!
Abby
Him: Hi Abby,
Yeah, you’ve made your move, and I like a determined woman.
However, I have to tell you I’ve seen your profile a while ago and was mostly admiring the costumes and “tattoos”, and in the recent times have just stumbled on your profile over and over again while aimlessly wandering the wildernes that is OK Cupid, therefore I wasn’t actually aiming to contact you.
(Blame it on the tiny thumb avatars – way too small for my tired eyes – under the heading “You might like”…)
I was thinking I may be too “tame” for you, though we will never know that for a fact unless we try it out empirically, so – why not: I’m all for meeting and may have some time towards the end of this week, to be exact Friday night, Saturday during the day (before 5 pm, working the evening) and Sunday.
I’m up in Harlem, but we can meet wherever convenient for you, I like traveling…
Let me know.
D.
Me: D.,
Too tame for you? Meaning what? I managed to be polite and witty through a dinner with a Republican banker from Connecticut. I will assume you’re at least a BIT less “tame” than he was. (Is? He DID assure me that he’d been to Woodstock. Yes, the original Woodstock.) Anyway, yes, no way to know without meeting, though your lack of enthusiasm is a little contagious.
If you think you might actually be serious about meeting me — and as I say on my profile(s), the goal of enjoying each other’s company for an hour or two is lofty enough without worrying about “forever” and all that — get back to me. I haven’t been to the Garage Flea Market (24th/25th between 6th & 7th) so maybe we could stroll through? Grab a coffee before or after?
If any of that (meeting me, aiming for friendship initially, strolling through a flea market, coffee?) appeals, yeah, lemme know! This is decidedly an imperfect “system” but a means to an end, I suppose.
Abby
Him: Hi Abby,
You are spot-on on almost all points above.
Lack of enthusiasm is the right definition for it, though it’s not for you per se. So, I didn’t want to appear to be a creep – visiting your profile multiple times without contacting you – but I ended up being an asshole – telling you “meh – we might as well meet, but only if you insist”. You seem like a nice person and you deserve the right amount of interest. Which I did not show.
In my defense right now, it seems as if I’m in some kind of valley on the OK Cupid “valleys and peaks” path. So you may not believe me when I say “it’s not personal” – how could you? – but it isn’t, it’s just me not being particularly enthusiastic about anything…
And that is a wrong start, period, whether thinking of just now of forever, regardless.
Sorry.
De.
P.S. When I said “tame”, I meant I’m not “plotting activities” all the time and all over the city and/or continent, though I’m not exactly the couch potato. (Woodstock..? I was otherwise engaged at the time, but had replayed it numerous times in my bedroom in the succeeding years, thanks to the triple LP I still have, though not recently…)
Me: Would it be that awful? Honestly? I’m an interesting person.

Honestly? He couldn’t even be bothered to see this through and meet me? And does this mean I should change my profile to say that I essentially sit on my ass waiting for some — ANY — human companionship? Does “planning things” make me so wild that no normal man could possibly imagine himself able to handle the enormous burden of entertaining me? Holy hell.

Yet another fail, on my part, to engage a fellow human. Again, I reached out, based on an interesting profile. What an idiot I am. He said on his profile that he’s in Vermont until April. So I thought I was safe in merely making contact.
Me: Hi there,
I decided not to be dissuaded by your “replies very selectively” rating or the fact that you’re not available for coffee or a beer (or wine, for you, if you prefer) in the (very) near future.
All that said, you sure do sound interesting. Sorry, I’m not usually one to gush but you would make a good TV show. Or Lifetime movie…Perhaps something on the Cooking Channel?
I’m hoping you’re experiencing enough boredom to spend more time than usual on this site and that you will, out of said boredom, respond.
Abby
Him: Good Morning Abby,
Depends on very near future. I am in Brooklyn till Saturday morning. Had to dash back to Brooklyn for a couple of days in between snow storms.
M.
Me: Hmmm, does this mean you’re available for a coffee or beer? [Fuckin’ hussy.]
Him: Shoveling snow at my store right now. No plans for tonight or tomorrow afternoon at the moment. Subject to change. [Sounds positively RIVETING!]
Me: Yeah, no plans for tonight either, with all this “weather.” Let me know if you’d like to make a plan!
Him: Where in New York are you? [I always love this question. Like there’s a right and wrong answer? Friends tell me that people list themselves as living in “New York” when they are, in fact, living in New Jersey. Or worse!So I guess it’s not a completely ridiculous question.]
Me: East Village. [Which, one might’ve assumed, given the “EV” in my screen name. Perhaps not…]
Him: I can hop up there or nearby. I would love to have Chinese at Pings on Mott St.
Me: Tomorrow, perhaps?
Him: Lunch, coffee or hot chocolate?
Me: If you’re craving Ping’s, let’s do that! Hot chocolate for dessert?
Him: More Chinese food than Pings per say. Lunch I would pick a dim sum place.
Me: I’ll leave it up to you. I work for myself so I can do either lunch or dinner. And hot chocolate knows no hour.
[This exchange took place around noon, all in quick succession. When I hadn’t heard back from him by 10pm, I made other plans for lunch.]
Me: Looks like I can only do dinner tomorrow. Let me know if that works for you!
Him: Hey,
Sorry I have plans with my son, Maybe next time I am in town.
M.
Me: Okay.

And that was that. Why bother telling me you’re in town? Then why bother telling me when you’re available? Only to become UN available? Why bother beginning to make plans at all? I guess that was my bad for not keeping me day wide open. Sigh.

Near-misses shouldn’t be anything to get stressed about but when you spend as much time at home, alone, as I have lately, it does have an effect. Sadly. Even worse are the dates I enjoy and the men I never hear from again.

A while back I went on a date with a guy who was super tall and the perfect age (a year or two older…perhaps not “ideal” by my “standards” but certainly “proper”). He showed a more-than-nodding acquaintance with the neighborhood and picked a place. He showed up on time, wearing black jeans and a motorcycle jacket. He suggested fancy cocktails, which were yummy, and ordered a selection of tasty tapas. Then he paid. Thus far, many points accumulated. Next? The invitation to go somewhere for an after dinner beer. Ding-ding! Off we strolled to Manitoba’s. More points. After not one, not two but three beers later (one round of which I insisted upon paying for), he said he needed to get going. We walked down Avenue B till my block and hugged goodbye, with smiles, “that was fun”s and “I’ll be in touch”s. I never heard from him again. Who’s to say it would’ve worked out. But add to all of his particulars that he’s a music producer and in a band. That his last girlfriend (who is deceased, not an “ex”) and I traveled in similar circles. That he gave up his East Village apartment for a family home at the beach (!!!) so, you know, I could offer him a place in the city and he could offer me a place at the beach (!!!). I was envisioning a bright future. But no. Nothing. Not even an invitation to see his band. Ah well.

I don’t post the good dates because, well, I don’t want to risk a guy reading about himself and ruining the chances of romance blooming. Which doesn’t mean I don’t go out and actually enjoy the company of men I meet online. I’ve had a few dates over the past few months that were really fun. The men were smart and engaging, our conversations stimulating and entertaining, the checks chivalrously paid. I’m not sure which is worse, never hearing from someone I was truly interested in seeing again or enjoying myself with a man I can’t imagine sleeping with. Either way, the disappointments have been adding up and I’ve considered retiring from the online dating world. But for now, I will post this and wait for the nasty comments, which have become as emotionally debilitating as the dates themselves.

Aside

There’s no one behind the controls at OKCupid. They don’t seem to care that more than half the profiles are fakes and a good chunk of emails sent are from foreign countries fishing for suckers. Are they waiting for the … Continue reading